Fireball over the UK seen from HCO

5th March 2012

Many people across the UK witnessed a fireball on the Saturday 3rd March. Some HCO members who were gathered together that evening were lucky enough to see it too. (Not the webmaster though, who is a little miffed he wasn't there.)

One member, Norman Kissoon, sent a letter in to the Banbury Guardian:

On Saturday evening at the Hanwell Community Observatory meeting, the group ventured outside into the courtyard to take advantage of the clear sky to conduct some practical observing of the moon, Jupiter, Venus, Mars and the wonderful Betelguese – one of the largest stars known, some 1,000 light years away.

Suddenly, we witnessed an extraordinary event.

To quote Andrew Baxter, one of the members present, ‘Through the trees I spotted low down on the northern horizon a very bright orange light. It was travelling fast so the first thoughts were that it was a military jet on a low-level night exercise’.

There was no noise. It proceeded to the east of us, climbing higher, which made no sense for an aeroplane or helicopter. David Shirt joked it was a UFO!

It climbed higher and as it passed parallel to us it did not become dimmer, as aeroplane lights would, but it left a vapour trail which looked like it was from a plane and illuminated by the moon.

No noise. It then faded away when about due east of Hanwell, at an elevation of 30 degs or so, we who were there concluded it was a fireball, or a piece of space hardware crashing back to earth.

At say burn up altitude of 100 miles and 30 degs elevation, due east , that puts it about 150-200 miles away, over Holland? I bet it was seen in the north of Britain.

It was a clear night so thousands must have seen it, especially those driving north.

I read in the Daily Telegraph that the fireball may have ended its life in the Bay of Biscay.’

A spectacular finale to our evening.


It was indeed seen in the north of England. Here's a great video taken over Whitley Bay in North Tyneside:

See video